Malaysian pop punk outfit An Honest Mistake have been in and out of Manila, playing shows and shooting videos. They’ve taken on several stages at local festivals, including the annual gathering of independent bands and clothing brands at Threadfest, and setting Taguig and Makati as their backdrop for their “We’re Alright” and “Everything” videos. Now, it’s your turn to enter their realm and discover what Kuala Lumpur has to offer.
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to scour the streets of Kuala Lumpur through the eyes of a local musician, An Honest Mistake’s Darren Teh gives the lowdown on where to go to catch the hottest gigs, the best food, and all the secret spots to expand your vinyl collection.
Where did you play your first local gig and is the venue still around today? Do you remember how it felt to be on stage for the first time?
My first gig was in a dingy venue called One Cafe. It moved to another location a year after I played it and closed about 2 years after that. It was a good venue, because the kids gathered there a lot to really listen to music and to express themselves. The equipment on the other hand wasn’t that great but they did put on really good shows. Eyes Set To Kill played there and Converge as well, if I remember clearly. I wasn’t really nervous though when I played the first gig. It was more like “OK. Let’s do this.”
What local venues do you (or used to) frequent for a fresh dose of the local music scene? Do you still have time to check it out?
When I was starting out, I used to go to Laundry a lot and then I ended up performing there, then asked to organize gigs and finally ending up as a staff. I was the marketing manager from October 2015 to July 2016. Right now, The Bee in Publika, Merdekarya, and Atas are some dope venues for live original music. I still get out every now and then to listen to real music.
Where did you see your first major concert? What band/artist did you watch?
My first was Hoobastank in 2001. I was 15 and it was at Hard Rock Cafe in KL. The band played a tight set and my brother had to talk to the bouncer to let me in because I was underaged. It was such a good show and I met the band. They really opened up my eyes to how real bands perform because they were amazing.
Are there certain places in Kuala Lumpur where you feel songwriting flows the best? What songs did you write in those spots?
Most of the songs I’ve written were all at home in the wee hours of the night—or shall I say morning! Those were the best songs that I’ve ever written. I think drawing inspiration from the city and then coming home to write is how it has always worked for me. I wrote, “Everything” up in the mountains of Sarawak called Borneo Highlands. That’s why you could hear the imagery of the sun and stars in the song.
Give 7 places—from gig venues/clubs/bars, famous landmarks, busking areas, and museums people should visit in Kuala Lumpur. Why should they visit these places?
The Guitar Store – The best music store in Malaysia by far. Not because we’ve got ties with them but because the staff are 100% professional. Full of knowledge and ever so willing to serve customers. A drum set that’s on a high rack won’t be an issue to be brought down just for you. That’s what happened with me and I don’t even play the drums. They’ve got an array of guitars and drums across 3 floors and a performance space. Acoustic guitars and classical instruments on the first floor, electric guitar, basses, keyboards and drums on the second floor and a performance area on the third floor. Some of the brands they carry are Cort Guitars, Dean Guitars, Sadowsky, Fender Japan, ddrum, Cadeson, Maton guitars, AER Amps, Farida guitars, Norman guitars to name a few. This is pretty much like my second home. If you can’t find me, I’d probably be here.
Teenage Head Records – If you’re looking for vinyls, this is the go-to place. It’s like going back to the past as soon as you enter the store. Located in SS15 where some of the most hip and creative would hang out, this is definitely THE place for vinyl lovers. You can find music from most local bands here.
The Bee Publika – Not just a restaurant but a performance space. It has just been newly renovated and caters for some of the best local gigs as well as international. They’ve hosted bands like The Temper Trap, Howie Day, Tennyson and more. They’ve got an outfit called Indiego that spins every Saturday night bringing the best of indie rock. There are no rock bars except this. Enough of EDM. This is the place for the cool kids. All the most hip and popular can be found here on a regular night. Regular series of Feedback Open Mic happens here as well that happens every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month.
Wong Ah Wah – Malaysia is known for its plethora of amazing food. Wong Ah Wah is located on Jalan Alor right smack in KL itself adjacent to the ever-so-popular Bukit Bintang Street. Chicken wings and grilled stingray is what its known for. Ask anyone that has come in contact with us, mention WAW and there’s only one resonating expression of content and satisfaction. You can feel their mouth water. They’re known for pork ribs and salted egg squid too. Our favourite dish is the ‘fooyee yau mak’ which translates to romaine lettuce stir fried with fermented beancurd paste. It may sound yuck but it’s not at all. Try it and you’ll find out. This is a place not to skip. Your trip won’t be complete if you don’t dine here.
Merdekarya – Grassroots is what it is. Located in the old neighbourhood of Jalan Gasing, you’ll find some of the most honest musicians performing here. Having gone through a few phases of renovation, now, Merdekarya stands as one of those venues that you have to play at. It’s like a rite of passage. From open mics to showcase gigs, Merdekarya does not turn away musicians who are honing their craft. Gigs every day except Monday and Sunday. Order the apple crumble and bangers & mash. You will know why I suggested it.
Asia Cafe – If you don’t know what to eat, this is the place to go to. Asia Cafe in SS15 offers a variety of food from pasta to grilled chicken, and everything in between. There’s Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Malay and Northern Indian as well. It’s in the heart of the college scene. surrounded by colleges and you can expect a lot of students in the area. There’s also a cyber cafe if you’re looking for a quick DOTA match. Order the TROPICAL DELIGHT from the ‘drinks guy’. You can thank me later.
Trec KL – Finally, any trip won’t be complete without going out to ‘people watch’. Trec has some of the hottest clubs and bars in KL all in one place. Yeah there’s Changkat Bukit Bintang which is connected to Jalan Alor but Trec is everything in one place. And man can you people watch. The hottest people ranging from college goers and young working adults, there’s a place for everyone here. Venues that play reggae, dub, hip hop, pop or even live bands can all be found here. For a fun night out, this is the place to go.
An Honest Mistake are set to return to Manila for MCA Music’s Get Music Indie-Go on May 20th at the SM Mall of Asia Arena with Autotelic, Gab Alipe, Reese Lansangan, and more. Tickets are available at SM Tickets.